"My Story…" Monday: Christmas With the Threat of Tragedy


The fact that my daughter was born on Christmas Eve is sort of bittersweet. For the most part, I just feel sorry for her. I feel bad that she’ll never have a party actually on her birthday. I hate that her day can get swept up with the other festivities so easily. And, I’ll admit it, it annoys me when people wrap her birthday presents in Christmas wrap just because it “was handy”.

At the same time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t recognize the power the day of her birth adds to her story. There’s something wondrous about her triumphant arrival into the world on such a special day. The idea that her miraculous cry filled the room in the wee hours of Christmas Eve morn tends to somehow make it all the more inspirational. Would she be any less amazing had she arrived on, say, October 5th? Nope . But there’s a little magic that goes along with that Christmas Eve date…

The fact that C. came into the world crying was the very first victory. But we knew our worries were far from over. We had been told, multiple times, that our daughter still had a less than 50% chance of surviving the next 48 hours. What did this mean? It was a coin-toss if she’d make it through Christmas…

You would think this would have put a huge damper on the holiday. It would make sense that, as I fought to recover from a massive surgery and our precious little girl fought to live, Christmas almost fell by the wayside. But you know what? That’s not what happened. Not at all…

Though we knew, absolutely knew and understood, that C. might not make it, we spent no time dwelling on that fact. A lot of that is thanks to the deep and instant love and faith my husband and I had for this tiny, determined little life we had created. And, truly, I think a lot of it is because of how others reacted…

We were so lucky.

Between my sister’s repeated “what a fighter!” as she heard the story of C’s birth to my mother’s immediate launch to plan her visit to her newest grandbaby… from my sister-in-law’s arrival with a precious pink stocking and angel ornament within hours of her birth to my mother-in-law’s abiding faith that she was meant to be there for Christmas… there was so much spirit and love and prayer around us that it would have been hard to fall into a pit of despair. I don’t remember anyone saying one discouraging word to me.

It was the leanest Christmas my husband and I have ever had to face. I know plenty of others fall on much harder times but, for us, it was a difficult, challenging year. I grew up with generous, abundant Christmases. Early in our marriage, with our two incomes and a firm grip on our finances (we were both bankers), we were able to spoil each other quite lavishly. But in 2005, with an infant and a baby on the way (sooner than we had anticipated!) and recovering from an extended period of unemployment, we had a budget of $20 to spend on each other…

I remember every gift we exchanged that year. I remember the gloves I painstakingly tracked down on sale at Target for my husband. I remember the 9×13″ cake pan he bought me. I remember the crossword puzzle books I chose for him. And I remember the ring he somehow found on clearance with a garnet flower (my son’s birthstone) with a tiny diamond in the center (what should have been my daughter’s birthstone)…

But, as Christmas night fell deep and dark under a blanket of heavy, wet snow… we received a call from the NICU just to say that our little girl was feisty and stubborn and doing well. And we knew…

We had been given the most precious gift of all.

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